Friday, 6 March 2009
WHAT A WONDERFUL DAY
The weather was wonderful for a walk around the Durham coast today. This is a picture of the clouds imitating the pattern of the trees at Hawthorn Tower. This once fine house no longer exists but the area of Hawthorn Dene still encompasses ancient woodlands, dells, wild flowers and grasslands. There were sweeps of snowdrops, sadly on their last legs but also cyclamens, hellebores and daffodils pushing through. The Magnesian limestone, which is so predominant at the surface in Eastern County Durham has always been valuable as a road metal and as a refactory lining for furnaces so it has left many quarries. This is the Hawthorn Quarry. Fortunately it also provides wonderful habitat for wild orchids.
We followed this track which was, in the old days, the major road north. Cromwellian troops marched this way. We saw no troops but as we munched our picnic lunches, a fox fled from a copse, in full flight, and with its tail flying out the back like a banner. The twenty of us were taking one dog for a walk but it nearly broke away from its lead in its efforts to chase the fox and cried pitifully when held back from its quarry. It was a greyhound!
This is a picture of Dalden Tower in Dalton-le-Dale. It was once a pele tower and is surrounded by a lovely parkland. I remembered this area as much more rugged when I was younger. It has all been tidied up a lot but sadly that means that the nightingale has probably moved on. When I was a younger it was common to come and sit here at night and listen to it.
Today's walk started at Seaham Harbour. This small town on the Durham coast holds a special place in my heart. As children we often visited the place and even swam in the North Sea off the coal-dusted beach. We always needed washing when we got home to Granny's because our legs were black from the fine coal-dusted sand that made up all the beaches in the area. The Featherbed Rocks have been nearly washed away and the sand is now golden and the beachfront is "improved" very nicely.
This picture shows the old and new harbour walls and the small building in the centre of the picture is the old Harbour Master's Office where I spent a couple of weeks in the summer of
1968 gathering data for the writing of my Third Year Dissertation. I enjoyed a trip in the Pilot's boat but declined the offer of a "DIVE" in an old diving suit with lead-weighted boots, a screw on helmet and a tube to the surface which supplied air!!! I regret that now. Gosh, fancy saying No to such an experience. Something they mentioned about the enormous eels down at the stuck dock gates might have influenced my decision. I remember it all so happily.